The Ten Commandments – A Brief History
God, through miracles, signs, and wonders, delivered His people from the hands of the Egyptians and defeated Pharaoh’s army as the Israelites passed through the sea unharmed. They were led to the foot of Mount Sinai in Arabia, where they camped.
Shortly after, Moses was called up into the mountain to meet with God. Alone, he climbed the steep and rugged path, drawing near to the cloud that symbolized Jehovah’s presence. At this time, Israel was to enter into a close and unique relationship with the Most High. They were to be organised as a church and a nation under God’s governance. The message to Moses for the people was as follows:
“You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people, for all the earth is Mine. You shall be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”
Moses returned to the camp and gathered the elders of Israel to relay the divine message. Their response was, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” They entered into a solemn covenant with God, pledging to accept Him as their ruler, making them, in a special sense, subjects of His authority.
Once again, their leader ascended the mountain, and the Lord said to him, “I will come to you in a thick cloud so that the people may hear when I speak with you and believe you forever.” When they faced difficulties along the way, they were inclined to complain against Moses and Aaron, accusing them of leading the Israelites out of Egypt to bring about their destruction. The Lord sought to honour Moses in their presence, that they might place their trust in his guidance.
God intended to make the occasion of speaking His law a scene of tremendous grandeur, befitting its exalted nature. The people were to understand that everything connected with the service of God must be regarded with the utmost reverence.
The Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and be ready for the third day, for on the third day the Lord will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.” During these intervening days, the people were to engage in solemn preparation to appear before God. They needed to purify themselves and their clothing, and as Moses pointed out their sins, they were to humble themselves through fasting and prayer, seeking purification of their hearts from iniquity.
The preparations were carried out as commanded. Additionally, Moses instructed that a barrier be placed around the mountain to prevent anyone, human or animal, from trespassing upon the sacred grounds. The penalty for touching the barrier was instant death.
On the morning of the third day, as all eyes were fixed upon the mountain, its summit was covered by a thick cloud that grew darker and denser, descending until the entire mountain was enveloped in darkness and an awe-inspiring mystery. Then the sound of a trumpet resounded, summoning the people to meet with God. Moses led them to the base of the mountain. Flashes of lightning illuminated the thick darkness, while thunder echoed among the surrounding heights. “Mount Sinai was completely enveloped in smoke because the Lord descended upon it in fire; its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly.” “The glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain” in the sight of the assembled multitude. “The sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder.” The demonstrations of Jehovah’s presence were so terrifying that the Israelites trembled.
Centuries ago, God inscribed His law in stone, and its relevance and importance remain unchanged even today. It is undeniable that transgressing any aspect of God’s law always leads to negative outcomes. Just as the prevalence of crime agitates our cities, it becomes clear that in order to establish peace and safety, we must observe to the laws of the land.
This same principle applies to our personal lives when it comes to God’s law—the Ten Commandments. They are not mere suggestions, recommendations, or ideas. Considering the significant implications involved, it is crucial to take a few moments to earnestly reflect upon our individual responsibilities.
The Ten Commandments – A Brief History